By Joe Torosian
“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying; nothing.”—Shakespeare
Expectations, expectations, expectations…
Maybe it’s because I’ve returned to football after two years of only watching the basics of it. But I’ve noticed something new, and if it’s not new, then the banging of drum is louder.
I used to study the Draft, watch the Draft, dissect the Draft, prep for my Fantasy Draft, keep the NFL Network on—in the background—for eight hours a day. Covered games on Thursday night and Friday night. Usually watched or attended a college game on Saturday. And never missed a game on Sunday afternoon and night. (Monday Night Football on ESPN–has always been unwatchable.)
But for the last two years, I only watched football when it was on. My last year at Mid Valley Sports, I didn’t do much more than a game story.
Now that I’m back, I hear things that, perhaps, I never paid attention to before. For instance, I do not recall a time when so many were complaining about how bad the NFL preseason is.
It’s always been bad. That news is about as fresh as a comment about Colin Kaepernick…But I also expected it to be bad. When I watch an NFL game in August, I don’t care if the starters play. As a fan, I don’t want to see the best players on my team put at risk.
So I watch preseason games to see who is going to make the squad or get a final glimpse of a college quarterback I liked…or a player we covered back in the day. That’s why I watch preseason football. To me, it is very watchable.
Honestly, if you’re going to complain about the NFL preseason and you’re a Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, or Buffalo Bills fan…what are you complaining about? Those teams are unwatchable year in and year out.
Now, I’ll watch NFL preseason games…but I won’t pay to watch NFL preseason games. Meaning, I won’t pay for a seat to watch a game. That is a rip off when they charge regular-season prices.
It’s terrible that the owners’ force season ticket holders—the most dedicate of their fan base—to purchase preseason games as part of the package. You’d think they’d make them complimentary. It’s ridiculous that season ticket-holders put up with it. They should unionize and tell ownership they will not pay the freight for preseason games.
Yes, the NFL should drop preseason from four to two. When I grew up, the NFL preseason began the first week of August and ran six weeks. Six weeks of preseason football sounds horrific to our ears as casualty counts from the Civil War.
I rarely side with players in issues of collective bargaining because I believe there should be a firm line between ownership and employees. Ownership assumes all the risk in terms of payroll. Like every other worker in the United States, the players can play for the owners or go do something else.
In the case of the preseason being too long, I agree with the players. Holding the line against expanding the regular season to 18 games, I agree with the players. On expanding the playoffs from 12-teams to 16…I disagree completely.
Part of what makes the NFL what it is, and football what it is, is the tightness—the economical—of a short schedule. If half the league makes the playoffs, then the regular season is diminished. Not only in importance, but also in intensity. Expanding the playoffs would be a bad move.
Full disclosure Department:
My fondness for preseason goes back to the first NFL game I ever attended. The old “Times Charity Game” between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams at the Coliseum in August of 1974.
The Cowboys won, 13-6. The key play was a swing pass to the Cowboys Les Strayhorn, who broke several tackles down the Rams sideline. As Strayhorn raced towards the closed end of the Coliseum—where I was sitting—out of the corner of my eye, I saw a blue streak.
It was the Rams Cullen Bryant, then a defensive back, who came racing from the far side of the field to take Strayhorn down before he crossed the goal line. Still one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. And it happened during the preseason when a second-year defensive back was fighting for a spot on the team.
That’s fun to watch.
The Rams lost, but the talk on the bus ride (yeah, bus ride) back from Los Angeles to El Monte was about what Bryant did. A week later Bryant was moved to running back, and he had a long career in the NFL.
And I saw the reason why…In preseason game.
The Dude abides…
Author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” … “Temple City & The Company of The Ages” … “The Dead Bug Tales” … “The Dark Norm” & “FaithViews for Storm Riders”…all five available through Amazon.com.
Follow Joe on Twitter @joet13b